"Sun and Moon: Ultra Legends" is the third and final season of the "Sun and Moon" series and the twenty-second season of the Pokemon anime as a whole. (Wikimedia Commons)
"Sun and Moon: Ultra Legends" is the third and final season of the "Sun and Moon" series and the twenty-second season of the Pokemon anime as a whole.

Wikimedia Commons

As The Journey Continues

Is the Pokémon anime still holding up after 20 years?

May 9, 2019

For the past 20 years and over 1,000 episodes, the “Pokémon” anime has been following the same kid (Ash Ketchum) going on the same journey with the same Pikachu and the same dream of becoming a Pokémon master. The show is currently closing out its seventh-generation series, “Sun and Moon”, which premiered in late 2016, about the same time I started and eventually gave up on its sixth-generation series, “XY,” because it was getting dull and repetitive. I only just now gave “Sun and Moon” a chance, and it is interesting, to say the least. I’ve only seen the first 30 episodes so far, so I don’t know everything about it yet.

Similar to the Sun and Moon games replacing the traditional gym battles with island trials, the Sun and Moon anime uses a plot structure that is radically different from the rest of the show. Instead of Ash going on a journey across the islands of the Alola region, he stays on Melemele Island for the most part and attends a school for Pokémon trainers. This transition was a little jarring, but it’s kind of refreshing once you realize Ash isn’t going anywhere. If he ever goes on a full-on journey to complete the trials on the other islands, it’ll be much more jarring.

When I first saw the commercials, I thought Ash would have a whopping five traveling companions as opposed to the two or three he’s had in other series. It turns out his five companions are actually his classmates at the Pokémon school, and none of them are obnoxious, which is a first. In fact, I don’t dislike any of the new characters except for maybe Ash’s new Rotom Dex, who tends to be a know-it-all. Even the new villains, Team Skull, are pretty entertaining. They’re like a second Team Rocket, and the only thing better than one Team Rocket is two.

There’s also one tiny thing that I forgot to mention: the art style. The show switched to a brighter, more freeform art style for Sun and Moon to match the tropical setting, and it sure is something. It takes a little getting used to after watching the more defined art style of previous seasons, but it’s very easy on the eyes. The artists also ramped the faces up to 11. The characters make some incredible, anime-style facial expressions that are something to behold, and they put the icing on the art-style cake.

All in all, “Pokémon: The Series-Sun and Moon” has redeemed the Pokémon anime in my eyes after the trainwreck that was the part of X and Y that I watched. The best part is that I can watch the whole thing for free on the official Pokémon website. The Pokémon anime hasn’t lost its charm after 20 years, and “Sun and Moon” is a testament of that.